Will There Be a New Currency for Digital Advertising?


Stitched Panorama

There is no doubt about it: social media has changed the way advertise

The advent of social media marketing introduced new ways to measure return, changes in how advertising uses emotion, and the ability to engage with the target market. And now, social media has expanded into even more aspects of the advertising industry.

Social media channels allow this generation of consumers to communicate and attain information. This generation of users also gathers massive amounts of information at a very fast pace every day, which is major a departure from the way some other generations consume content.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk concerning digital advertising, in particular the new Facebook algorithm and its effects on paid impressions. While the marketing and advertising industries continue to feel their way around, another transformation in digital advertising may be fast-approaching.

Briefly encountering mass amounts of content is now second nature to this generation, which happens to be something social media cultivates especially well. This results in a potential change for advertising because, even if a viewer does not give an ad a lot of their time, it does not necessarily mean that the ad was ineffective. Therefore, the way we measure the success of an ad may need to change.

Like any industry, digital advertising has a currency. For years, the standard currency has been CPM: cost-per-impression (the cost per thousand views). And the engagement has been measured by whether or not a person clicks on an ad—the click-through rate, or CTR. But, what if the industry started monetizing time instead?

If adopted as a standard currency, the amount of money spent on digital advertisements will be directly connected to how long an ad appears in front of a targeted group. And as AdAge notes, “The measurement—cost per hour, or CPH—shatters a decades-old media pricing model that values volume above all else.”

It seems to make sense, right? Rather than spending money to mass produce advertisements, agencies will pay to get in front of their target segment, and they will only be charged for the amount of time these ads are actually seen. It is getting more difficult to measure the success of an ad by how many clicks it receives, because this generation doesn’t click on ads.

But, this doesn’t mean this generation isn’t looking at them. Consumers in the digital age are used to mass amounts of information and multi-tasking—their web surfing habits are fast and constant. So, the likelihood of them taking the time to stop what they are doing and actually click on an ad is less likely than them pausing over an ad, even if the ads are equally intriguing.

This idea is still very new, and the advertising industry is still working out all the details. For instance, how do you determine the price of time? The Financial Times is currently experimenting with this new advertising currency. Their most recent analysis consisted of advertisers purchasing an hour of ad time; if a viewer sees an ad for five or more seconds that time goes toward the hour bought. But, if the viewer scrolls away from the ad before five seconds, then no time is taken from the hour the advertiser bought. They are still testing out the system, but a lot of research shows that just five seconds of viewing time by a consumer increases brand recall.

As with any changes to social media marketing, only time and experimenting will determine what is successful and what is not. Even so, we may very well be on the brink of a new currency for digital advertising.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Wally Argus

About the author: Catherine Walsh

Catherine is Editor at Social Media Contractors. She graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where she earned her B.A. in English and M.A. in English, specializing in Rhetoric and Composition/Ethnography.

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